Posts Tagged Writers’ News

RIP David St John Thomas

Most of you will be aware that David St John Thomas passed away last month at the age of 84.  David St John Thomas Letter Writer of the Year

David St John Thomas founded Writers’ News 25 years ago and still wrote a regular column for the magazine right up until his death. Prior to that he ran the publishing company David & Charles.

A lot of writers will remember him for his work with the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust. The Trust was created with some of the money from the sale of David & Charles. It ran a wide range of writing competitions and also provided bursaries to students taking part in useful work in the developing world.

It was through the competitions organised by the Trust that David briefly touched my life. I was the winner of the 2006 David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year Award. I met David at the presentation event in Harrogate. He was very friendly and it was a lovely event.

It was the final year that the competition ran and so I was able to keep the silver cup that went with the £100 prize.

This Letter Writing Competition was a wonderful way of encouraging new writers. It entailed compiling a portfolio of letters published in magazines and newspapers over a 12 month period and so was accessible to a wide range of people who may not yet have had success in any other area of writing.

So I’d like to say my own personal thank you to David St John Thomas for the encouragement that that competition win gave to me.

Finally, and in the spirit of encouraging other writers, if you’d like to try out your letter writing skills, this competition offers £30 each month to the writer of the best letter of complaint.

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Seeking a Short Story Competition

Eddie Walsh from the sadly defunct Emerald Writing Workshops competitions has refunded entry fees for his competitions that

4 Pounds Sterling - On White Set - P9053075

would have closed later in the year. So now I’ve got £3.60 to use as the entry fee in another contest. So I’ve been looking around to see what there is with a £3 to £4 entry fee and discovered the following selection of short story competitions:

  • Monthly ‘Writing Magazine’ Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £4 for non-subscribers but I’m going to give these a miss because, as a subscriber, I can enter the contests in the Writers’ News section of the magazine for free (I’ve unofficially set myself the challenge of entering the WN comp. each month & have managed 3 so far, with th 4th in the pipeline).
  • Monthly ‘Writers’ Forum Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £6 for non-subscribers, plus there is the option of paying an additional £5 for a critique. This is a possibility but I know I’ll be tempted by the critique and a total of £8 is a lot for one competition.
  • Dickens Bicentenary Writing Competition – £3 per prose piece/£2 per poem. Entries to be inspired by a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Closes 15th August 2012. Not for me – I’ve read very little Dickens so unless I went for Scrooge, I wouldn’t know who to base my hero on.
  • The Word Hut 5th Short Story Writing Competition – £4 entry fee with prizes of £50, £25, £10. 1,000 words and an open theme. Closes 16th September 2012. I’ll give this one some thought and have a look through my ‘stock’ of 1,000 word stories.
  • Speakeasy Open Creative Writing Competitions – £4 per story/£3 per poem with prizes of £125, £75 and £50 in each category. 2,100 words and an open theme. Closes 31st October 2012. This is another one for me to consider but I might have to write something new to meet the word count – most of my stuff seems to be shorter.

And if you’re looking around for other competitions to enter a good resource (which I’ve used in my searching) is the Writers’ Reign website.

Good Luck!

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Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story Competition

שערי העיתון Reader's Digest

Image by העין השביעית • via Flickr

See Results update at the end of this post.

Reader’s Digest are running a 100 word story competition. Stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long (99-worders will be disqualified). The title will not be included in the 100 words.

Email your stories to by January 31. The winner will receive £5,000 and the two runners-up a £100 book token each. All 3 stories will be published in Reader’s Digest.

There is also a schools’ section to the competition with the winner in each of the 2 age groups getting £1000 in high street vouchers plus £1000 for the winners’ schools.

Full details of the competition can be found here

However; there has been some controversy in writing circles about the terms and conditions of this competition. These state that ‘contributions become world copyright of Vivat Direct Ltd (t/a Reader’s Digest)’.

This means that Reader’s Digest take the copyright of all  stories entered, not just the winning stories that are published in the magazine – therefore you couldn’t then publish or enter your (winning or losing) story in a similar competition elsewhere. There has been  discussion about this on the Writers’ News Talkback Forum, with the participants split between those willing to give up copyright on their story for the chance to win £5,000 and those who thought that writers should never give up copyright on anything without some form of payment or acknowledgement.

Gill Hudson, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest, explained the policy to Alex Gazzola in the January issue of Writers’ News.

“We’ve had to do it this way beacuse, with the small team we have, and the sheer practicalities of thousands of entries, I don’t think we could run this competition if we had to deal with all the various rights, permissions and queries that could potentially arise.”

 You will have your own opinion about whether you want to give away your carefully crafted 100-word story in exchange for a chance at a £5000 jackpot. Personally, I think it’s worth the gamble. I do recycle work that is rejected by its original target market or fails to make the grade in a competition. However, I usually find that the work has to be tweaked in some way before it can be resubmitted, this may mean lengthening or shortening it or changing the tone slightly to fit the new market.  I expect this would be the case if I wanted to recycle my 100 word story for another micro fiction market – it may have to be moulded to fit a set theme or again, made longer or shorter to suit the new requirements.

 So, I will make a note on the filed copy of my entry, to remind myself to wait until the results of the Reader’s Digest competition have been announced and then (if I lose) to change the story substantially before resubmission.


The winner is announced here. The standard of writing was so high that Reader’s Digest have decided to feature one story a day on their website – please leave a comment if yours is featured so that we can all admire it!

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